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Let’s hope they do a better job than Disney did with Prince Caspian.

Disney cited ‘budgetary issues’ as one of their reasons for not continuing the series. Prince Caspian earned $420 million, compared with $745 million for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. No wonder. Prince Caspian was a dog of a film.

Some Hollywood directors seem not to have the slightest understanding of their target audience, or even of the fundamental workings of drama. The prime audience for any of the Narnia series are people who have read and loved the books. Drama works when people care about the characters.

So why include in the first ten minutes scenes which are not in the book, which serve no positive purpose, and which make the audience dislike or distrust the characters who drive the story? These were the scenes of Peter and Edmund fighting in the railway station, and Susan lying to a boy who wanted to befriend her. These scenes made the key characters look violent, self-important, selfish, dishonest and shallow. This impression was confirmed by their behaviour through the film. It is impossible to care what happens to characters like this, so it was impossible to care what happened in the film.

Some teenagers (and some adults) are like this. But the characters in Lewis’ books are not. They are fallible, sometimes weak, always human. But they are also courageous, caring, even noble. The exception in the film was Lucy, who was delightful. But she could not carry the film on her own.

And then there was the idiotic attempt to suggest sexual tension between Caspian and Susan, which culminated in a passionate kiss. Pathetic.

I remember watching an episode of the US made version of Dr Who, originally a BBC programme I had loved for years. The special effects were brilliant, the Tardis looked better than ever. Then the Dr kissed his assistant. Instant reach for the remote.

You can make your own cirque de so lame programmes with kissing in them. Well, some of them aren’t so lame. But put kissing in Dr Who, and you have crossed a line, my friend.

Likewise with the Narnia stories. You can make films about shallow teenagers finding themselves, and maybe some of them aren’t so bad (though I’m struggling to think of one).

But don’t make a film that twists into dullness the characters I love from the books, that leaves out all the themes that were Lewis’ reasons for writing the book – honesty, courage, dignity, forgiveness, the balance between trusting God and taking responsibility – and then tell me that’s Narnia, and expect me to pay to see it.

I wrote a couple of days ago about Imanutjob’s demand that the US apologise to Muslims everywhere as a condition of better relationships with the Islamic world and with Iran in particular.

To apologise is to acknowledge that something is your fault. Untruthful apologies – apologies for things that are not your fault – may be convenient, they may even make you feel better. But they bring no long term benefit either to the person who apologises, or to the person to whom the apology is given.

An apology from the US would be taken as acknowledgement of responsibility, not just by the US, but by the West as a whole, for the sorry state of many Islamic societies. The response would not be ‘Gee, thanks. That’s OK, apology accepted.’ It would be continued and renewed blame of the West, accompanied by further demands for withdrawal, compensation, etc.

Instead, the responsible thing to do is quietly and patiently and repeatedly point out, as Charles Krauthammer does in this article, the many ways the US and its allies have helped Muslim communities around the world, often at considerable cost and no obvious benefit to themselves.

Given that dogs are unclean, definitely not halal (permitted), I can see why this would be an unpoular menu option. Dog meat plus chemicals. Yum.

Oh puh-leese! 

Researchers warn that ocean acidification, which they refer to as “the other CO2 problem”, could make most regions of the ocean inhospitable to coral reefs by 2050, if atmospheric CO2 levels continue to increase.’

Bollocks.

Coral and coral reefs evolved in the Mesozoic era, when atmospheric CO2 levels were up to 100 times higher than they are today. Corals and other marine creatures have survived the last 150 million years with variations in temperature, sea level and CO2 levels orders of magnitude greater than the minor changes over the last 100 years.

In addition it is becoming clearer that human impact on CO2 levels is so small it cannot even be reliably discerned against the background of natural processes and fluctuations. CO2 increases follow (there is no evidence they have ever caused) global temperature increases. It is highly likely that the minor 20th Century rise in atmospheric CO2 is the predictable natural increase as we climbed out of the ‘Little Ice Age.’

A better headline would be “Human Produced Nonsense Causing Irreversible Damage to Credibility of Science.’

It might have been better if they had worked this out before turning it on.

It is off for repairs at the moment, and despite the scary headline, what the scientists are actually saying is that while any black holes produced may last longer than they first thought, the chances of any of them surviving for long enough to cause a problem is pretty close to zero.

But then, when you are talking about the end of the world, pretty close to zero is not really quite good enough.

While not exactly ‘hitting out at the US Congress,‘ as his words were described, Simon Crean, Australian Federal Minister for Trade, is right to express concern about increased trade barriers in the proposed porkulus package.

I thought one of things President Obama wanted to do was open a new era in US co-operation and friendship with the world. Setting up trade barriers is not going to do it. The impact on Australia may be substantial, but we’ll cope. The impact on developing countries will lead to increased poverty, and growing resentment of the way the US uses its economic power.

Way to make friends, BO.

I don’t blame them.

This kind of thing is amusing when you read about it happening half way round the world, but I don’t think I’d like crowds of naked hikers strolling around my neighbourhood.

I installed the Windows 7 beta on my home computer last night.

It’s a fairly complex machine with four internal drives, a permanently connected external backup drive, Nvidia graphics card, headphones, two printers, ethernet and wireless network connections, webcam, etc.

I was upgrading from the 64 bit version of Vista Home Premium. The upgrade went without a hitch, and all my devices (the ones I have checked so far) seem to have been recognised and appropriate drivers installed.

I had tried an earlier version of the Internet Explorer 8 beta and then removed it – it was confusing and buggy. But the version bundled with Windows 7 seems clean and stable. It can suggest websites you might enjoy based on your browsing history. I’ll be interested to see what it comes up with. 

Windows 7 seems to load more quickly than Vista when it was first installed. I didn’t have any of the driver or BSOD problems I had early on with Vista 64. It is visually attractive, and seems stable, though I haven’t done anything especially demanding with it yet. I will load up World of Warcraft and Crysis over the weekend, and see what it can do.

I’ll keep you informed!

Good for him.

He’ll be pulled into line, of course, but he’s right.

No alternative to military tribunals is in place, so their shutdown could see cases like this being transferred to civil courts which are not equipped to deal with them, or delayed indefinitely.

Politically motivated delays won’t serve the cause of justice for the suspects, for families of the Cole or other terror victims, or for the American public.

About 20% of all cancers are caused by virus infections. For example, most cervical cancers are caused by the sexually transmitted HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). Gardasil, commonly but inaccurately called a cervical cancer vaccine, prevents infection with common forms of HPV.

Scientists in South Australia are hoping to develop ‘A viable platform technology that will form the basis of a vaccine that would not only prevent, but could cure a range of chronic viruses even after they’ve become established in the body.’

This would help to prevent not only HPV and cervical cancer, but other cancers such as liver cancer, which can be caused by hepatitis infection.

Let’s hope it works.

Andrew Bolt points out that while Climate Change Minister Penny Wong was claiming that the recent heatwave in southern Australia was proof of global warming, most of Australia actually had below average temperatures for this time of year.

I know a couple of months of cooler than average temperatures don’t prove the world is getting cooler. Nor do a couple of days of hotter than average temperatures prove the world is getting warmer.

See earlier entries for more on perky Penny’s panicky plans.

Below average temperatures in most of Australia

No surprise, given how strong the FBI audio tape evidence semed to be.

Illinois senators ‘found Mr Blagojevich guilty of engaging in a lengthy pattern of pay-to-play politics in which he traded campaign donations for political favors and tried to swap his ability to pick Mr Obama’s replacement for a cabinet post, ambassadorship or high-paying job for himself or his spouse.’ Amongst other things, prosecutors say ‘tapes show Mr Blagojevich pressuring a racetrack owner for a hefty campaign donation in exchange for help passing favorable legislation.’

Two notable things about this. First, Blagojevich genuinely seems baffled by what has happened, and unable to comprehend that he has done anything wrong. He claimed that senators from both sides had been involved in all of the projects and processes now being described as corrupt. They didn’t seem to like that.

And second, five of the past nine Illinois governors have been indicted or arrested for fraud or bribery. Mr Blagojevich’s predecessor is serving a six-and-a-half year sentence for fraud and racketeering.

Interesting place.

Might be better than the astonishing mess that is being rammed through the complexities of US legislative processes as I write.

Of course homeopathy is complete bunk. There is not a shred of reliable, tested evidence that it works. So how is it that in at least two instances, the Spanish Flu Epidemic of the early 1990s, and the London cholera epidemic of 1854, homeopathic hospitals had markedly better recovery rates than standard hospitals?

The answer is that many of the traditional treatments for those diseases, bleeding, purging, etc, were actively harmful. The homeopathic remedies did nothing. Nothing was better.

Ditto for economic stimulus proposals. The traditional treatment amongst liberals for a slowing economy is to take money from some people and give it to other people, and encourage them to spend it. This is actively harmful, because the people from whom the money is taken are in large part those who are employing others, making useful products, or providing useful services. Penalising these people and organisations is massively counter-productive, to the point of outright stupidity.

Like it or not, every working economy depends on profitable businesses. The way to stimulate economic activity is to encourage those who are productive through tax cuts, by making it easier to employ people, and by reducing the costs of doing business, including compliance costs. If governments can’t do something useful, they should at least have the decency to do nothing. Nothing would be better.

Roger Kimball reports some interesting stimulus (as opposed to porkulus) proposals from Rush Limbaugh. The difference is, his suggestions might actually work. 

Israel closed its crossings into Gaza on Tuesday after a bomb attack on the Israel-Gaza border killed an Israeli soldier. The crossings were later re-opened, allowing 174 trucks of food and other aid into Gaza on Wednesday, and 149 on Thursday.

But the crossing from Egypt at Rafah remains closed, with some two dozen aid trucks waiting to go through. Local Egytian officials say they do not know why.

It is obvious to everyone that controlled border crossings need to be open to allow aid into Gaza. Hamas launches attacks on border crossings, and steals aid and sells it to the highest bidder, yet Israel keeps its crossings open and allows hundreds of aid trucks through. But directions from high in the Egyptian government command that the Rafah crossing should be closed. Why?

Egypt doesn’t want Hamas in control of Gaza any more than Israel does. As long as Hamas is in charge, there will be no peace with Israel, and no lasting reconstruction or building of infrastructure. The best outcome for the people of Gaza, and for neighbouring nations like Israel and Egypt, is a change of regime. This cannot be imposed – it has to come from the Palestinian people.

There is no doubt many wish for change. But with stories like this, of Hamas torturing and murdering anyone who opposes them, it will take a huge amount of courage from a few, or a massive popular rebellion from the people of Gaza for that change to come. Perhaps Egypt is hoping that frustration and desperation as people wait for aid, along with the manifest mismanagement and aggression of Hamas, will be a sufficient driver to motivate such a rebellion.

It is hard not to share Jennifer Marohasy’s frustration at at the mainstream media’s failure to report this:

‘a wide-ranging survey of glacier conditions across south eastern Greenland, indicates that glacier melt has slowed significantly and that it would be wrong to attribute the higher rates of melt prior to 2005 to global warming or to extrapolate the higher melt rates of a few years ago into the future.’

But unlike Jennifer, while disappointed, I’m not surprised.

This is an important story because the whole ‘Oh my God, the ice is melting, the seas are rising, please give us lots of money’ campaign is based on the alleged melting of Greenland’s glaciers and ice sheet. Ice in the Arctic is floating, so even if that melts in an unusual way it will have no effect on sea level. As I have noted before, a rise from -45 degrees to -40 degrees in Antarctica is not going to melt a lot of ice, and anyway, except for the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica is stable or even cooling. So the Greenland ice sheet melting story was vital to to the anthropogenic global warming scare campaign.

For the mainstream media to print such a story would be to acknowledge they had been wrong, and that there really was nothing to worry about. And they won’t do that. Alarming climate headlines will persist for a few more years.

Headlines like the one on this rankly dishonest story: Scientists Say Glaciers Melting Fast. This is based on studies by the grandly titled World Glacier Monitoring Service. They monitor 80 glaciers around the world. Cool. But there are about 160, 000 glaciers in the world, some two thirds of them in Antarctica. So this claim is based on a study over the last thirty years (nothing in geological time) of one half of one tenth of one percent of the world’s glaciers. And even then, the headline belies comments from one of the scientists involved that coastal glaciers in Norway thickened during the study, and that the overall rate of loss in studied glaciers had slowed from the previous year.

Eventually, when it is simply not possible to ignore the fact that the world is not getting any warmer, and that there never was any reason to believe the minor and perfectly normal variation in temperature over the last 100 years had any relation to human produced CO2, the mainstream media will find some new potential disaster, and begin demanding that politicians take immediate action to save us from it.

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